Before the parade, I distributed signs to the crowd in Tower Grove Park. We are the first ever, South Tower Grove Brewery. This was followed by a speech and our walk to Holt Street.
First of all, I would like to thank all of those that made it out to the Parade and to our opening day ceremony at the Brewery. Having everyone there made the day something very special for the Civil Life Brewing Company and the so many people that have worked so hard to get this brewery open.
We are about to begin our first hundred days and during that time there will be one additional item added to the Civil Life Brewing Company’s pub each day we are open (Tuesday through Saturday). I will blog about it here and note it’s significance to our brewery. Many of these items will begin to make this place feel like a true pub to many people. We did our soft opening with bare walls because I didn’t want to detract from the incredible woodwork and craftsmanship in our pub. But now, we are ready to add the ambience and allow the space to develop before your eyes. So stay tuned as it all begins tomorrow.
We began the day at the corner of Oak Hill and Arsenal in Tower Grove Park with a good hundred or so people waiting for us to arrive. After passing out some signs, I began a prepared speech in which I “borrowed” and took a few liberties with the Gettysburg Address, President John F. Kennedy, Monty Python “Life of Brian”, Albert Einstein, Shakespeare to name a few. We then took to the streets and walked through the neighborhood. Our great volunteer, Kevin drove Dylan’s van and set up two stations along the way in which we distributed beverages to all of the people walking with us. The Third District was kind enough to provide crowd support along the way and I am forever indebted to the great work they do here working with our community to make it a better place to live. Our alderwoman, Jennifer Florida made it down as well and Tower Grove is so lucky to have her.
Our parade represented what I consider to be the major beer producing cultures of which emerged the current brewing and pub culture. We had the Czech flag with a man wearing an Eastern European hat, the Irish Flag, A monk (Matt) carrying the Belgium Flag, Joe (wearing lederhosen) carrying the German Flag, an English flag and a prestigious American flag from our great country. Our crowd carried signs, “My Mom made me do this.” “Make Beer, Not War” “Loco for Local” “No Beer, No Work” “Be Civil” “Will work for Pretzel and Beer.” “Save water, Drink Beer.” Most importantly we had a pirate as every parade needs a pirate. In fact we had two pirates as my nephew Joey (our youngest regular ) dressed up as a pirate as well.
Mike (our assistant brewer, chief kitchen manager, founder) carried the St. Louis Flag which we borrowed from Steve Smith at the Royale because ours hadn’t arrived yet.
My friend, the great painter Carl, counted 200 by the time we turned the corner onto Tholozan and headed up to the top of Holt. As we turned the corner Dylan, myself and Mike and the crowd were greeted by Laurie from the Saint Louis Caledonian Pipe Band who began playing the bagpipes in the most beautiful way. As we walked up the hill she turned the corner and joined the rest of the band to march us down Holt Street. Keep in mind that no one in the parade knew we were being greeted by this great band. By no one, I mean Dylan and Mike didn’t even know. Well, one person did know and that was my sister monica as I had received Laurie’s name from her. My sister took video of the event and we will post them soon.
As the band marched us down Holt street many of the neighbors and many people (probably something like one or two million) lined the streets to welcome us. Sister Bertha, our first customer was there as well. Rob, my good friend and champion of our part of Tower Grove had set up a table and area for the neighbors to wait for us.
At the bottom of Holt, I paused the crowd and waited as our Pirate, my brother Mike, ran by all of us with the pirate flag high in the air as the crowd cheered. He passed all of us and climbed up to the top of the roof and planted the flag on it’s peak signifying our official opening. The band then played as everyone entered the brewery.
It was truly one of the most special days of my life and I am so thankful for the many people that have helped make this place happen. I can never thank you enough and sincerely hope being part of our brewery raising has been something you are proud about because you and the many people who will come to patronize us make it all possible.
We will have video soon and many pictures from the event. The transcript from the speech is below. I believe my sister has a video of it as well and my voice during it has been described as Scottish, English and Irish. I guess I was channeling a lot of great cultures.
Grand Opening Speech given at the corner of Oak Hill and Arsenal on the twenty-fourth of September in the two thousand and eleven.
“Friends, St. Louisans, and Countrymen. Lend me your beers. We are today about to embark in the noblest of fashion on a journey together. A journey which will take us through the streets of this great Neighborhood to open the first ever Tower Grove Brewery. And I ask of you, ask not what your brewery can do for you, ask what you can do for your brewery.
So I say to you.
Four score and seven thousand beers ago the Civil Life founders (Mike, myself and this guy right here who I think’s name is Dylan) brought forth on this continent, to create an inspired brewery and resurrect session beers, conceived in barley, and dedicated to the proposition that not all breweries and not all beers are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great Civil Life, testing whether Civil Life beer, or any beer so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure a few years after its grand opening. We are met on a great battlefield of taste and we have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those beers whose sales are rapidly decreasing and who soon will give their lives so that this beer company might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should drink this beer and make friends while we drink this beer and continue to tickle our livers while we drink this beer. But more and more we must come to realize that in a nation as great as ours, in a nation that has been blessed. We together must reach out with our voices and bless the beermakers, and not just every beermaker but craft beer makers in general. And not just any craft beer maker, but bless this beer-maker.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we cannot rest on this ground. The brave men and women, the drinkers that have gone before us, who struggled here to make craft beer an integral part of your life, have consecrated it, far beyond our meager power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we did here and it can never, never forget what we drank here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who drank here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored drinkers. We take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these empty beers shall not have been consumed in vane--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of craft beer--and that this brewery of people, built by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth and in particular from 3714 Holt in Tower Grove South.
So I leave you with one final thought, There is a great revolution about to occur in this great world of ours. We as a nation must move beyond democrat and republican, beyond black and white, and beyond mass market beer.
We must come to realize in the words of Albert Einstein. The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at the same level of drinking with which we created them.
There is both a thought and drink revolution that will take us beyond these problems. That will unite our world.
And in a thousand years when they look back at this time in history, let them say,
It began in your great Country,
It began in your great city of St. Louis,
It began in your Neighborhood,
And it began at your Brewery.”
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.